A very wise person once wrote that nothing is ever truly free
I think most reasonable people realize that anything of value has a cost and the client always pays that cost. Still the word free is very often used in business to lure the unsuspecting. The lure of free is a very strong one, and people continue to be taken in, over and again.
Several times a week someone comes into the shop with a long list of things they have been told their vehicle needs. Someone has done a free inspection. Looking at the list, a professional can spot the long list of wallet flushes and high-profit items recommended. Many times, most the work recommended is not needed and often seriously needed work has been overlooked. This may be confusing to the average shopper, but I feel there are forces that almost guarantee such an out come. I feel the followings are facts, not known by many and may explain my point:
With a free inspection, the shop will only get paid if they find something wrong. Getting an honest, objective opinion may be difficult. Properly inspecting a vehicle properly takes time. Time is money and everyone must be paid. It is far more likely to expect a credible inspection to have a charge attached.
In many shops service-writers and technicians are paid on a commission basis. This means employees get a percentage of what they can sell. In a perfect world, this should not influence their recommendations. I believe many shops use loss leaders to lure clients in. The money is made by selling high profit, sometimes questionable services.
Loss leader pricing. This is where services clients often shop for, are priced at low or no profit. The theory is, clients will think if these prices are low, everything else may be comparable priced. Not so! This is the come on, and high priced items are sold to make up the loss. An honest shop prices everything fairly, their prices represent value.
Menu pricing. This is a refinement of the above two. It is logical for people to wish to know, in advance, what something will cost. When buying commodities, this is simple. A loaf of bread bought at store A might be equal to the same brand loaf of bread bought at store B. This is due to standardization. Such standardization does not exist in the auto repair trade. A tune up in shop A for $400.00 may include original-equipment parts, plugs, wires, fuel filter, air filter, cleaning the throttle body and servicing the injectors. In shop B, a tune up may be a set of no-name plugs and an air filter. This is a rip-off at $250.00. The same goes with every service.
In my opinion shops willing to use deceit to gain clients are also far more likely to use deceit to improve their profit
I feel an honest business charges a fair price and renders a fair service. Don’t be taken in, have you ever really gotten anything that was truly free?
In the end two things are pertinent. Is the shop honest and are they technically competent? If they are honest, the price will always be fair. If they are technically competent they will be able to repair the vehicle. If either is NOT so, the result will be bad, regardless of promises made in advance.